The course was brilliant, to be honest. I think it was very productive and I learned a lot during that day… It is definitely a course that I’d recommend to other aspiring managers.
Verified by an engineer
Neel Sandhu graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak, India before moving to the UK to gain his Masters in Advanced Engineering Design at Brunel University, London. After joining a graduate programme with National Grid, Neel decided to pursue his great love of aerospace and started working on the Airbus A350 aircraft. He was part of the team which designed and developed the galley equipment for the new wide-bodied aircraft.
Having explored other roles within the aerospace sector, Neel is now a Mechanical Design Engineer for Martin-Baker Aircraft Ltd. The company has been the world leader in the design and manufacture of ejection seats for fighter jets for over 70 years, supplying the majority of air forces worldwide. They also produce crashworthy seats for helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts. “I am part of the Product Safety department – I investigate and resolve (using 8D, engineering design, hand calculations, FEA, testing etc) the problems and incidents that are critical to the life or safety of the pilot, as well as manage various stakeholders. We believe that when an ejection seat may represent a crew member’s last chance to survive, there can be no compromise. To date we have saved 7691 lives.” Neel is mentoring a young engineer at Martin-Baker Aircraft and is also a STEM ambassador, volunteering in schools to promote the role of science and engineering to secondary school pupils.
Why the Aspiring Engineering Manager course?
“I do enjoy my current role – I really like the engineering design work, FE analysis, problem solving, leading investigations and so on – but quite a big part of my job is regular liaison and management of various stakeholders. It’s mostly internal but occasionally external stakeholders, and I need to communicate with them on a regular basis to assign tasks and review their work post completion. I am ambitious to achieve my short-term goal of having more direct reports and have a long-term goal to be an Engineering Manager. I wanted some training on how to effectively communicate whilst managing multiple stakeholders and projects at the same time. When I discussed this with my line manager, he told me that he had also taken the Aspiring Engineering Manager course with IMechE, so I knew it was good.
“Communication is key to managing projects. I was raised in India speaking Hindi and although my BEng was in English but it was not my first language. When I first came to the UK, I had to work very hard on my verbal skills as well as written communication – it’s challenging to start new life in a different country and gain that confidence of being able to fit in with others.
“One of the motivations for taking this course was that I wanted to discover more about my communication skills; about how I come across to people when I’m explaining something. I wanted to really understand myself a bit more and see where the gaps might be. I also wanted to look at my personal values and how I could align them with organisational values. Before looking at the description for this course, I had never thought about that.”
What was your experience of the course?
“Prior to taking the one-day course at the Institution’s headquarters in central London, we were sent some pre-course materials, including a DISC profile questionnaire (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness). I did a fair bit of work on this, took lots of notes and had it to hand during the course – it was very revealing.
“There were about 14 of us, mostly mechanical engineers but some electronic engineers, too. Some were already managing people and others were like me. It was a good mix. The presentation style was to go through slides on a subject area and then split off into groups for workshops, which I found very interesting. There were plenty of opportunities to ask questions and contribute.
“The course was brilliant, to be honest. It was very productive, and I learned a lot during that day – largely, I think, because I was heavily engaged. I was enthusiastic before the course, and it fulfilled my expectations. I made a lot of notes and, of course, still have the course materials which are really useful. It is definitely a course that I’d recommend to other aspiring engineering managers.”
“It was nice being in the IMechE HQ in Birdcage Walk. I popped out at lunchtime into St James Park and took some photos of me with the pelicans. An unexpected bonus!”
What are the key reasons someone should attend the Aspiring Engineering Manager course?
1 “I strongly recommend the course if someone wants to address their behaviour style, including assertive communication.”
2 “This course will help if you are interested in the alignment of your personal values to your organisation’s values.”
3 “It’s very helpful to understand more about time management and the tools you can use.”
What’s been the impact?
“The section on assertive behaviour and communication resonated a lot with me. There have been occasions in the past when I’ve held my ideas back due to lack of confidence. When we discussed assertive communication and behaviour style, the trainer gave various examples. They were exactly the type of phrasing and communication I use.
“So, I am trying to cut that ‘softness’ out of my communication. I am even starting to use that approach in my personal life. I’ve still got a lot of work to do on it. There’s a challenge for me to be more confident in putting my ideas forward.
“I am also working on discovering more about my core values and how they align with Martin-Baker Aircraft’s values. It was the first time I’ve heard of this concept, and I have found it invigorating.”
Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees
1 “The first thing is, before the course, to think and understand what you would like to achieve.”
2 “You should definitely complete the pre-course DISC profile questionnaire. It’s fascinating.”
3 “I recommend active participation in all the activities. Speak up during the course and ask questions.”
“I want to progress – I haven’t moved into a specific management role yet. I do want to continue managing people and have more direct reports. I also want to mentor more people. In fact, when I was looking at courses, it was either this one or the Mentoring Skills course. I decided on taking Aspiring Engineering Manager first, as that’s what I want next in my career progression.
“I want to do more courses, and I am about to take an internal one on being a manager. Then I’ll look at the IMechE courses again, perhaps the New Engineering Manager course.”
Aspiring Engineering Manager